The Royal Navy’s Type 45 Daring-class destroyer HMS Dragon has become the first warship in the UK to conduct operations with F-35 Lightning II fighter jets in the Middle East.

The destroyer is working for the US Commander Task Force (CTF) 51/5 to provide air defence to the US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex.

This joint project enabled the crew members of the Type 45-class vessel to gain knowledge and understanding of the tactics, techniques and procedures to work with the F-35 fighters.

The knowledge will be used by the crew in support of the UK’s future carrier strike group operations.

"It has been a great honour to command HMS Dragon to provide air defence duties to our US Navy colleagues."

HMS Dragon commanding officer commander Michael Carter-Quinn said: “Having trained as a fighter controller, and controlled harrier jump jets while serving on board HMS Invincible, it has been a great honour to command HMS Dragon to provide air defence duties to our US Navy colleagues.

“The step change in performance and range of roles the F-35s can provide is impressive, and to be able to work with these aircraft now in preparation for supporting the integration of the Queen Elizabeth-class, Type 45s and F-35s into the carrier strike group is exciting.”

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The CTF 51/5 has been serving as a part of the UK and Royal Navy’s commitment to supporting operations in the Middle East, in addition to ensuring the safety and security of the Gulf and the wider Middle East region.

Launched on 7 November 2008, HMS Dragon is the fourth of the six Type 45-class air defence destroyers built for the Royal Navy.